In the harbour town of Cobh in Cork, there lies a miniature world of pure, plastic imagination.
Graham Young, 45, a Cobh native, has spent the last six years, and thousands of euro, building the fruition of his dreams, carefully, brick by brick, from Lego.
Now that he has amassed an incredible catalogue of creations, Graham, who first fell in love with lego as a child in the 80s, hopes to build his hobby up into a career and make money from his Lego empire.
“I remember there was a fire engine set, with small little blue lights on top and a siren. I was sitting on the carpet with it, I was about six,” he says, recalling his first-ever set.
Graham, who also runs a gym, took a short, 30-year hiatus before he got the building bug once more.
“So I was looking into doing modelmaking, not particularly Lego. But I went to Smyths Toys, and out of nostalgia mainly, I took a walk down the Lego aisle, and they had a set that was Japanese Ninjago themed. So I bought three of the temple sets,” Graham said.
It wasn’t long before Graham started expanding his Lego empire, and his Japanese table soon became a city table, accompanied by a number of Batman-themed sets and Cork-themed buildings, he was hooked on the Lego buzz.
One of his prize achievements is his Batcave, put together entirely of his own imagination. The entire project took exactly 16 months from start to finish.
No two pillars of rock, sculpted from plastic, are the same. Inside the structure, which spans horizontally, are a weapons room, suits room, gym, trophy room, and an operations area, all covered by an extravagant Wayne Manor.
Another valued build is inspired by a location a bit closer to home: A number of Lego houses built in a step formation are modelled on West View in Cobh.
Over the last six years, Graham believes he has spent around €15,000 to €20,000 on Lego, including collectors' sets, which if left unopened, will only gain in value as time goes on. He says he has no regrets regarding the money spent.
“This is my hobby. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. So I don’t feel bad spending money on this,” he says.
Graham, whose other hobbies include martial arts, music, and motorbikes, says he spends little time on others’ opinions of his pastime.
It’s Graham’s goal to eventually turn his hobby into a full-time job, as he’s watched other builders across the world bring in revenue streams through showcasing their work on YouTube.
Spurred on by the extra time he’s been given due to the lockdown, the Cobh man has his heart set on giving it a go in the coming years.
“It's early days yet. I just love it. When you find something in life that brings a mass amount of joy, you have to pursue it. And that’s what I want.
His partner, Lynne Doherty, says she is fully behind Graham as he follows his dream.
“This is his passion, this is what he wants to do and where he wants to be."
She walks through the moment Graham told her about his hobby when they first started seeing each other over three years ago.
“He told me, and I was like 'Really!?' Then he pulled out some pictures and I knew I had to see it. So he took me out to see it and I was blown away,” Lynne said.
Graham has showcased his talents on Instagram and Youtube, racking up thousands of followers: Follow @legoleprechaun